For us, the paint aisle is like being in a candy store. So many colors, sizes, brands, choices! We love it because it’s our work.

We have, however, heard the laments of people who have picked out their colors, but aren’t sure what their next step should be. It can sometimes be confusing when you’re not sure what paint sheen to use.

That’s why we’re here to help! Take a look at our quick guide below and learn what paint sheen to use in bathrooms, kitchen, trim, bedrooms, living rooms, and more. You’ll also learn a few design tricks and advice for painting a beautiful room.

When to use glossy or semi-gloss paint

Because glossy and semi-gloss paint sheens reflect light, they are best for places where you’d like to draw the eye. Consider using glossy paint when you want to:

  1. Create depth
  2. Highlight architectural features like doors, trim, or around glasswork
  3. Brighten dark spaces


  1. Excessive glare
  2. Highlighting imperfections

From a practical standpoint, glossy paint is also easy to wash.

Ideal Areas: 

Trim, woodwork, molding, doors, cabinets, kitchen, bathrooms, hallways

When to use Satin, Eggshell or Low-Sheen paint

Satin and eggshell are a good in-between if you don’t want the high sheen and reflectiveness of gloss, but want more depth and glow than flat paint. Use low-luster paint when you want:

  1. Higher sheen without full gloss
  2. Greater appearance of depth
  3. Elegance and warmth

Ideal Areas:

Family room, laundry room, kitchen, low-use bathrooms, dining room, trim, shutters, doors, hallways, living room, bedrooms, foyer, home office

When to use flat or matte paint sheen

Flat or matte paints are non-reflective, which means they are a great use if you want to downplay certain areas of a room. Use flat or matte paint sheen if you want:

  1. Non-reflective surfaces
  2. To camouflage imperfections
  3. Smoother look
  4. To downplay an area of a room


  1. Porous texture easily traps dirt
  2. Is difficult to clean (can burnish if scrubbed or rubbed)

Ideal Areas:

Ceilings, living room, dining room, hallways, dens, home office